Nicknamed the “Granddaddy of Them All,” the annual Rose Bowl Game is the oldest bowl game and is considered by many to be the most prestigious of the College bowl games.
Held on January 1st of each year (January 2nd where January 1 falls on a Sunday) the game draws national attention and fan interest throughout the United States.
There are many traditions around College football, and the Rose Bowl was one of the earliest bowls to introduce flip cards to the half time show, where fans flip cards to present words, logos and symbols supporting their team. Each flip card routine can be dozens of movements long and requires some serious planning, and it’s the subversion of this planning that gave football the Great Rose Bowl Hoax of 1961.
The Washington Huskies were pitted against the Minnesota Golden Gophers at the Rose Bowl stadium in Pasadena, not far from a local technical college by the name of Caltech.
The Caltech team occasionally played in the stadium, but had never made the Rose Bowl itself, a fact a group of fourteen Caltech students took to heart.
The fourteen, later known as the “Fiendish Fourteen” hatched their plot in the December of 1960.
After discovering the method the Washington State cheerleaders used co-ordinate the flip show (instruction sheets as to when to hold up each colored card,) they subverted the planned instructions by first obtaining copies of them, altering them by hand, and then replacing the original sheets with their altered sheets…all without being discovered.
Come January 2nd, NBC cameras focused on the stands where the flip show was to take place, and at first nothing was untoward, with the first eleven flip cards sticking to the Washington cheerleaders original plans.
The 12th flip was when the fun began. Little known to those watching, the Washington State Husky had been replaced by the Caltech Beaver mascot.
The 13th flip was meant to spell Huskies left to right but instead delivered “SEIKSUH” (Huskies in reverse.) By this stage the cheerleaders who were co-ordinating the flip turns knew something was going wrong, but little did they know what the 14 turn would deliver.
Reports at the time stated that the band stopped playing, the crowd went silent and no body knew what to do.
The crowd then erupted into laughter and the cheerleaders and band left the field.
Washington did go on to win the Rose Bowl that year 17-7 but the game will always be remembered for the Great Rose Bowl Hoax.